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Don’t Label Him.

He’s smart.  He’s handsome.  He’s ridiculous.  He’s loving.  He’s generous.  He loves to read.  He loves to run.  He loves to be the best.  He has an easily bruised ego.  He doesn’t always make the best choices.  He has to learn the hard way…

… like his mom.

He’s my son.  His name is James, and as much as I try not to label him, I still do.

Sometimes being a parent really sucks the big one.

We think parenting a toddler is hard, but honestly, the hardest thing about parenting a toddler is making sure they are still breathing by the end of the day.  In the long term, who really cares if your kid can recite the alphabet song before they are two or if they are still pissing in their drawers when they are three?

When they’re tiny, it feels like these things are so critically important that your whole parenting reputation could be broken upon them.

Then your kid, who is certainly old enough to know better, steals a coveted toy from his friend, lies about it, and has to be put in a four-figure leg lock in order to get the truth out of him.

All your delusions of your child’s perfection are shattered and you realize – holy shizzledizzle! –  they really are human and not the second coming of Christ like you thought they might have had the potential to be.

Damnit.

You research the Seven Deadly Sins and realize that your child might indeed be prone to all of them.

Wrath, Greed, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy, Gluttony.

Well, maybe not Lust – at least not yet.  Criminitly, he’s only six.  Though I’m sure he’ll succumb to that one too, in time.

It’s terrifying that someone might label your child a “bad” kid.  A problem child.  Uncontrollable.

Lessons like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” are helpful once you’ve taught them from seven billion different points of view.

Forcing them to prostrate themselves in front of their friend to apologize drives home the lesson a bit.

Grounding them from their favorite activities for a period of time reinforces the seriousness of their actions.

But did he learn his lesson?  I don’t know.  He wants to be like Luke, not like Anakin, so I think our Star Wars lesson was constructive.

Reflecting, I remembered when James was three years old and he was going through a horrid carbs-only eating jag.  I remembered how I kept telling him that when he was two years old he LOVED to eat carrots and peas and meat and all of the things he absolutely despised (Lies.  All lies). Within a very short time, he suddenly started trying most of the foods he had refused not long before.

And this memory is how I obtained some perspective.

I’ve always been a huge believer in self-fulfilling prophecy.  That is, when we label a person they become more prone to act as they have been classified.  I’m human too, and sometimes my beliefs gets all muddled when I’m having heavy feelings about a particular subject.

James is a wonderful boy. He is not a problem child.  Did he make a bad decision?  Yes.  Should he be punished forever?  No.  Will I make more of an effort to promote the wonderful traits he already possesses?  Yes.

Will I blow sunshine up his ass for every slightly honorable thing he does if I think it will promote his trustworthiness in the future?

You’re damn skippy I will.

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10 things.

Just for fun –

10 things you didn’t know about me, that you really didn’t want to know about me.

10. I have an honest-to-God coffee addiction.  Moms often joke about coffee being their drug of choice, but seriously, I have a problem.

9. I have lots of blank spots in my memory.  Much of my early teenage years, some of my childhood.  Memories of grade school resurface occasionally and then I remember why I repressed them in the first place.  I was socially derelict.

8. I could have an entire conversation with you, but if I’m reading or thinking then I won’t remember a single syllable of that conversation.

7. I really hate socks.  Unless I’m working out, going to a wedding… or a funeral… I don’t wear them.  Even with boots.  Oh how my mother tried… I can be very stubborn.

6. I have constant earworms.  You could even just say a word or two that reminds me of a song and I’ll have it stuck in my head and yours before you can say “annoying“.  I hum and sing to myself all day.

5. I talk in my sleep.  When we were kids, my friends used to think this was a great sleepover game.  They’d ask me questions and write down all my nonsensical babblings.  Just call me Oracle Erin.  Also, they drew on my face and I would never make so much as a twitch.  I have awesome friends.

4. My childhood nickname (affectionately) was Er-Head (pronounced Air-Head).  ‘Nuff said.

3. I love watching people squirm.  I take great joy in saying or doing things that provoke emotion – sometimes even negative emotion.  I couldn’t give a hoot what people think of me, but I do enjoy making them think.

2. To fall asleep, I daydream before bed.  I’ve done so every night since I was a kid.  Sometimes naughty dreams too.  But for some sad reason, I always end up falling asleep before I get to the good parts.  Bummer.

1. I have something my friends lovingly refer to as foot-in-mouth disease. I vomit out my thoughts before they have the slightest opportunity to be edited.  Some people call this “tactlessness” but I like to think of it as a positive thing, you know?  At least you know I’ll always tell you the truth.

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Taming Little Monsters

I’m considering renaming my blog, though I’m wondering if “Little Monsters” might be a wee bit understated.

A better fit might be “Tiny Demon-Possessed Ankle-biters” or “Savage Midgets from Hell” or perhaps “Malicious Miniature Tyrants”.

If it goes any further, I might need to google an exorcist.

Things to be thankful for:  they have yet to levitate or climb on the walls – though they’ve been climbing everything else that’s not meant to be climbed.

And while I’m at it, who the hell decided it would be a brilliant idea for the fall-back time change to be precisely tuned to the week after Halloween? Not only are our kids all coming down from an exhausting sugar high, but they’re doubly tired.

And therefore doubly cranky, crazy, and irresponsible for their actions.

Also, doubly paranoid – the fallout from the spooky Halloween festivities.

Lesson for parents – don’t bring your young children into a haunted house on Halloween even if the owner tells you it “isn’t scary”.  Because it will be.  And then you’ll have to cope with multiple little ones crawling into your bed at night complaining of “bad dreams”.

Also, forget what your (my) dentist says.  Giving the kids free reign of their candy for a couple days and then throwing the rest out is a BAD IDEA.  I’m only just now finally seeing flashes of reason and patience returning to their little brains.

See?  I make the mistakes so you don’t have to.

But I called it, didn’t I?

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Mothering the mother.

I’m on day 12 of having a common cold that won’t go away.  I knew it was happening when my immune system started firing on all cylinders a couple weeks ago.

Raw  throat – check.  Leaky nasal orifices – check.  Increased sinus pressure – check.  Violent sneezing fits – check.  Sudden urge to watch John Hughes movies – check.  Total inability to clean even a single dish or move laundry from washer to dryer – checkity check.

I hate being sick.  I’m a big baby.  I take full advantage of it too.  There are very few times in your life when you can feel completely guilt-free about lazing on the couch all day and letting the kids watch movies on repeat.

The last couple days I’ve been on a Dayquil bender and I’m finding joy in the most seemingly benign places; in the everyday occurrences that we take for granted.

I’m thankful for my husband.  Knowing a fair amount of single moms makes him particularly dear to me, especially when feeling pathetically wretched as I am of late.  Who else would harp at me to get a sweater and socks on, let me crawl into bed the minute he gets home from work, bring me water and rub my feet?  I wish every woman were so lucky.  I wish every woman would be able to take such a husband for granted.

I’m continually amazed by how caring my kids are when I show weakness.

I never pretend to be perfect – far from it .  I’m probably too honest with them (“I’ll kiss your boo-boo, but it’s not going to make it any better.”).  I let them watch movies that could give them nightmares.  I can become so angry that I can practically visualize back-handing them and have to remind myself to breathe.  Sometimes I give them treats they don’t deserve because I’m too tired to argue – or the flip side – sometimes I’m so unbending with the rules that I feel like I’m depriving them.  I don’t always know what to say or do to fix their problems – or sometimes I say or do too much.

No, I don’t think they’ll ever be under the illusion that their Mommy is perfect, but there certainly hasn’t been any love lost for it.

A child’s love is truly without conditions and constantly forgiving.  This is something all of us can learn from, I think.

When they play hairdresser with me, and brush my hair much more gently than I likely do with them, it reminds me of the need for patience.

I’m grateful for children who play unnaturally well together and who are sublimely thrilled for the chance to have mac n’ cheese for lunch – and dinner too.

My heart bursts when they try and kiss my boo-boos away and that they are genuinely sympathetic when I ask them to turn the television down because of a blasting sinus headache.    It reminds me to be more tender – because as someone who generally believes that suffering is a character-building activity, I can sometimes be too hard.

It’s painful to slow down.  Being forced to take it easy makes me realize how simply spending time together, be it sitting at the table doing puzzles, lazing on the floor and letting them crawl all over me, or cuddling on the couch and watching a movie, means so much more to the kids than having a clean house or having the finest quality of food.  I already knew that, but it’s difficult to always put that knowledge into practice.

I can already feel my energy beginning to siphon back to me and I’m dreading it.  Being able to multitask again, I will have so many things on my mind that it will be a struggle to just be thankful, and be loving, and be patient.  To be simple.  To simply, be.

But now I will try harder.  I come out of this with the understanding that having a bad cold now and then is a most excellent reminder  about what’s important.  My cup is, once again, full.

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Tooth Fairies these days…

James lost his third tooth a few nights ago when his sister Julia kicked him in the head coming down a slide and the tooth fell right out.  True story.

We tucked the tooth under his pillow, and as we were about to say goodnight I made a jest about how it seemed like the Tooth Fairy had been going on a lot of vacations lately since so many of my friends’ kids haven’t been receiving their tooth fairy money promptly.

Jon poo-poo’ed the joke saying the Tooth Fairy in OUR house is always on time and never takes vacations.

Which is why James was so much more disappointed when the very next morning he looked under his pillow and there was, of course, as Murphy’s law would have it, no money and a lonely little tooth.

“Oh dear, maybe since you lost the tooth so late in the day, the tooth fairy didn’t have enough time to make it over here.”  I lied through my teeth as the guilt got stuck in my throat.

The next night, the Tooth Fairy thankfully did manage to swing by, snatched the tooth and dropped some cash.

A few nights later, another of James’s teeth fell out while biting into a hamburger.  We put it under the pillow.  The next morning James woke up to find a bright shiny toonie under his pillow – and a little tooth in a ziplock baggy.

“Mooommm!  The Tooth Fairy forgot to take my tooth!”

“Geez, the quality control of the Tooth Fairies is seriously lacking these days.”

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10 ways to tell if you’re “done”.

Is it time to close up shop?  You know – the baby factory?

Read ahead and find out.

10.  You’ve stopped clipping coupons for diapers and formula.

9.  You start closing the bathroom door and demanding your privacy.

8.  You have so many layers of regrowth hair from each of your previous kids, not to mention the halo-like fringe around your scalp, that you wake up every morning looking like a electrified peacock.

7.  You’re looking forward to being selfish for the first time in a long time.  Planning a vacation, a new job, new hobby, joining the gym, training for a marathon, etc.

6.  Hubby has finally been allowed access to the boobs that were on temporary loan to your children.

5.  You almost always get to sleep through the night and for the first time in years have enough energy to stay up past 11PM.

4.  You hear a random newborn crying and rather than leaking milk down your shirt or having vividly emotional flashbacks to your own children’s new baby phase, your hair stands on end and you cringe cringe cringe.

3.  You start giving away your baby paraphernalia with a glee that borders on insanity – Goodbye disgusting high chair! Farewell change table!  Be gone cloth diapers!

2.  Your friend gets herself knocked up and you literally point and laugh.

1.  Aunt Flo is late – or maybe not – maybe you’re just being paranoid.  You pee on a stick, and by some miracle you don’t black-light search for that super-faint-but-must-be-there second line.  In fact, you’re genuinely relieved when it’s negative.

If you can commiserate with the above, then it’s all but guaranteed you’re “done”.  Hopefully your significant other agrees.

Good luck!

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Bathtub Conversations

The kids have such magical moments when playing in the bathtub, last night as I was watching them play I felt compelled to capture it.

Julia:  “It’s a slobbery poop making the poop go aaaalllll over the towel because we’re bad dinosaurs.”

James:  “We washed all the poop off-”

Julia:  “-but you can’t wash it aaaalllll off-”

James:  “-because the water is purple, and if he goes into the purple stuff he gets covered in poop.”  Mom sniggers and runs to get a notebook and a pen with which to capture this moment.

Julia sings:

“I’m playing  in my poop.

I’m stepping in my poop.

I’m squishing in my poop.

It’s so much fun to play in poop.

I like to smell my poop.

I play in my poop every day-ay-ay.”

Mom pauses to lift an eyebrow and takes a deep breath.  Begins wondering about the sanity of children.

James (in a commanding voice):  “Ugh.  I need to start all over.  Good.  Good.  Just push it out, Sir.

Julia says sweetly:  “You don’t mind if I make more poop?  I have a poop collection.  I just keep making more!”

James:  “We’re, like, underwater and I poop and pretend I pooped in my bed and then we went for breakfast.  Now we’re on a submarine and it brought us to the center of danger.  And there’s lots of danger there…

(Mom:  Hmm… are we done with poop finally?) 

…I’m putting poop on this guy (makes squishy sound effects).”

Julia squeals:  “HEY!  That’s MY poop!”

The moral?  Poop is pretty amazing shit.  And, kids are nucking futs.

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Toddler conversations

Josie and her best bud, Leah-Rose, are both 2-and-a-half.

They speak the same language, and it’s hilarious to watch.  Their banter is especially fascinating when I have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.  Sometimes they’ll double team me and ask for something.  I play the part of the half-wit adult who can’t understand the simple dialogue.  They play the part of the know-it-all twins.

Josie:  “Mooooooommm, pease has some bumblejumpins??”

Leah-Rose:  “Attie Eh-win (Auntie Erin), pease we pease has some bumblejumpins??”

Erin (without a clue) says:  “Er… bumblejumpins?”

Josie & Leah-Rose together:  “Yessss!!!  Bumblejumpins!!”

Erin’s left eyebrow hits the ceiling:  “Um…”

The most innocuous conversations can end up with both the girls spurting flames from their eyeballs at each other. They’re like a hearing-impaired old married couple with slight dementia, but they usually make up just as quickly as they argue.

Josie:  “I be doc-toh and you be da… da… da…”

Leah-Rose:  “You be a doc-toh and I be a.. a… a mommy.”

Josie:  “Noooo, you be a mommy an’ I be da doc-tOHHH.” (Her last syllable breaks the sound barrier.)

Leah-Rose: “NOOOO!  YOU BE DA DOC-TOH!”

Toddler-style push-fight ensues.  Someone trips over an errant toy.  Both children start spurting tears instead of flames.

Mommy (that would be me), who has been standing by, slightly bewildered, finally intervenes.  Gives Josie the stethoscope.  Gives Leah-Rose the baby.  Gives both the stink-eye.

“Josie, you be the doctor.  Leah-Rose, you be the mommy.  Try to play nice.”

After a half hour of quiet and harmonious playing, chaos again erupts. Flames spurt out of eyeballs.  Within a few minutes, they make up.

Repeat… All. Day. Long.

Leah-Rose and Josie Kae

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Fess-Up Friday

Choice phrases of the week in my house:

“Please be gentle with the kitten.”

“Do. not. touch the kitten like that!”

“PUT THE (&@!$) KITTEN DOWN.”

“Stay inside – the deck is full of stain.”

“DON’T TOUCH THE-” … doh!

“EVERYONE INSIDE NOW!”

“Please keep your hands to yourself.”

“Pulling hair hurts people, be gentle please.”

“PULLING HAIR IS NOT NICE! TIME OUT!”

“Please don’t throw the sand, it could get in someone’s eyes and hurt them – we don’t want to hurt anyone, right guys?”

“No. That’s. not. nice.  We don’t throw sand.”

“DROP IT!  DROP THE SAND!  DON’T THROW THE-!” doh!… “TIME OUT!”

Breathe, Erin.  Breathe.

Sometimes I wonder what my neighbours think.  Then I realize, I don’t really care.

My conscience is clear.  It’s Friday and everyone is still alive and psychologically intact.

This past Monday, James had his first day of grade 1 and Julia had her first day of junior kindergarten on Wednesday.

James loves grade one and hasn’t complained even once about having to go every day.

Julia loves kindergarten, even though she says she’s too shy to talk to anyone.

I’m really missing my little helpers.  Who the hell is going to entertain the babies all day??

Huh?  ME?

Oh. Yeah.  How do you do that again?

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September 1st

This weekend – Labour-day long weekend for us Canucks – marks the end of another summer.  Next week, the kids start school.  My Julia, for the first time.  James is starting grade one.  They ain’t gettin’ any younger.

I’m in mourning right now.  The leaves on the trees are already starting to turn.  Most of the apples have fallen from the tree in our backyard.  The wasps are moving more slowly, becoming more adventurous looking for places to hibernate.  We find ourselves suddenly stricken with the urge to bake apple pies and make soup.  You never know what to wear or what to put on your kids because the temperatures can fluctuate by over thirty degrees Celsius between the night and day.

For us in the North, it’s a time of heavy transition.  A time for layers and time to weed out the summer clothes and start filtering in the winter clothes.  Our bodies, having just finally got used to the heat, now have to become reacquainted with the bitter cold.  It’s too early to put the heat on at night, and in the morning our toes feel like they’ve been flash frozen.  Eventually we will give up and frantically search for the fuzzy slippers that have been hiding under the bed all summer.

We say goodbye to our summertime amusements and begin to look forward to our preferred winter sports.  In the meantime, there’s a lot of yard work and home maintenance to finish before we’ll be ready for the snow to fall.  There’s also pumpkins to carve, apples to pick, Christmas presents to buy, Halloween candy to collect, and memories to make.

I think I’m feeling melancholy about the change of seasons even more than usual since it was such a good summer.  I’d be hard pressed to remember any past summer that has been so exhausting but also so fulfilling.  We spent a lot of time together as a family.  We stayed up late and spent time with our friends.  We laughed a lot.  We made progress on our house.  Jon and I spent time together as a couple and fell in love more than ever.

(Yes, that last sentence was designed to make you vomit.  It’s true, though.)

My brain has been fogged for the last few weeks, trying to get back into the routine.  Trying to absorb the last moments of summer with the kids.  Trying to ward off the several illnesses spreading throughout my household.  Trying to get organized for recent and upcoming painting and reno projects.  Trying to keep our dog training going so we don’t flunk Basic.  Trying to keep the kids entertained and centered.  Trying to finish reading the Harry Potter series (I am reading it with my son, James, but decided to skip ahead).

Trying to avoid thinking that I’m going to be sending James to school full-time this year.

Because I’m going to miss him.  A lot.

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